15 Easy and Inexpensive Room Upgrades

We show you how to use coastal accessories to achieve picture-perfect seaside style without going through a total home decor overhaul.

Beautify with Bamboo

Photographer: Tria Giovan

1. Beautify with Bamboo

Single side chairs can serve as the perfect accent in a living room. Here, a bamboo dining chair painted in sleek, glossy black brings a little of the sea to an otherwise landlocked living area. Seat cushions upholstered in a small-scale green print also complement the room’s fresh, playful palette.

Say It with Sea Grass

Photographer: Jeff McNamara

2. Say It with Sea Grass

Sea grass rugs are attractive, sustainable, stain-resistant, and easy on the toes. Here, pairing a chunky sea grass rug with a coordinating neutral palette brings just the right amount of coastal style to this small, casual den.

Punch Up the Color

Photographer: Paul Costello

3. Punch Up the Color

Accent walls are a great way to add a little beach flair to small spaces without committing to the expense and hassle of tackling the whole room. Paint your built-ins an eye-catching color, such as this dining room cabinet’s vibrant shade of turquoise. The bold hue will highlight the overlooked space, and your favorite china and fine accessories will pop against the bright backdrop.

Tip: Order your paint in a matte finish to keep the color amped up but the shine factor to a minimum.

Don't Forget the Driftwood

Photographer: William Waldron

4. Don't Forget the Driftwood

Even the most contemporary seaside escapes need a little natural detail, and this substantial driftwood lamp is the perfect addition to an otherwise super-modern space. Other natural accent pieces to look for include driftwood-framed mirrors and sculptural driftwood furniture, such as glass-topped coffee and side tables.

Cue the Colored Glass

Photographer: Colleen Duffley

5. Cue the Colored Glass

Try placing colored glass jars or vases on empty, out-of-reach storage shelves. In this kitchen, the jars’ sparkling color mimics the hue of sea glass, yet the translucent glass doesn’t block any light from the room’s bright, high windows.

Go a Little Glam

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

6. Go a Little Glam

Old-school glamour is right at home in this West Palm Beach condo. The vintage sun-shaped mirror pulls the room together and adds a touch of glint to the room’s vibrant orange color scheme, white accents, and streamlined midcentury furniture.


Work in Woven Baskets

Photographer: Jean-Philippe Piter

7. Work in Woven Baskets

To add texture and warmth to loftlike, contemporary spaces, try incorporating one or two woven accents into the room’s decor. This kitchen’s cool black-and-white color palette is made more inviting with the help of giant, inverted woven baskets, used here as pendant lamps.

Frame Natural Finds

Photographer: Lisa Romerein

8. Frame Natural Finds

These aloe plants, mounted on luxurious linen and framed in sleek bamboo, offer just a hint of natural elegance. The grouping of frames brings the formality up a notch, perfect for entryways and formal dining areas.

Add a Touch of Nautical

Photographer: Annie Schlechter

9. Add a Touch of Nautical

While most homeowners can’t commit to a bold shell-covered mantel like this one, the oversize porthole mirror above the fireplace is a simple, attractive nautical addition to the space.

Use Coral Courageously

Photographer: Dominique Vorillon

10. Use Coral Courageously

Coral is often included in coastal homes because of its natural bone white hue and unique, sculptural shape. Here, white coral sconces pop against golden sea grass wallpaper, offering the perfect touch of natural appeal to a lofty, polished master bedroom. 

Say It with Shells

Photographer: Roger Davies

11. Say It with Shells

This sculptural, oversize shell, filled with the homeowner’s collection of white coral, hints at the ocean outside without overwhelming the palette and scale of this rustic, traditional entryway.

Put it in Print

Photographer: Tria Giovan

12. Put it in Print

Who can resist this elegant, whimsical use of pattern-on-pattern? The trick to combining multiple patterns is to vary pattern scales and limit fabric to a single color scheme, like this window seat’s classic nautical blue. It’s an easy, inexpensive update that can be switched in and out on a whim.

Incorporate Playful Objects

Photographer: Jeff McNamara

13. Incorporate Playful Objects

This colorful fake fish, hanging playfully above a built-in daybed, offers a fun, tongue-in-cheek reference to the water outside—and the homeowner’s love of fishing.

Fake a Remote Retreat

Photographer: Jean-Philippe Piter

14. Fake a Remote Retreat

Try draping your bed in a gauzy, white netting. We’ll be the first to admit that you probably don’t need a mosquito net if you’re hitting the beach on this side of the Equator, but trust us—you’ll feel like you’re snoozing in a romantic retreat every night.

Bring the Wicker Indoors

Photographer: Jonny Valiant

15. Bring the Wicker Indoors

Wicker pieces are no longer considered outdoor-only furnishings—wicker’s durability and attractive finish make it a staple in today’s coastal home. A single piece accented with a bright cushion, such as this deep wicker chair, brightens up overlooked spaces.

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